Entering Unknown

Entering Unknown
Watercolor, 7 x 10 inches
14 May 2010

When I first moved into my studio, I hadn't painted in over 14 months. I'd moved to a new state, into my first house and almost immediately started to design, plan and build a studio in the back yard.

Before moving, I'd finished a series of large watercolors of flowers. So I picked up again with flowers though I could not make anything to my satisfaction. I began to put brush to paper without any planning and that's how the series Landscape into Art began. About that same time, I read Jeanne Carbonetti's The Tao of Watercolor.

In the section The Spirit of Effortless Effort she tells of having moved from New Jersey to Vermont where she and her husband built a home with their own bare hands. She then goes on to describe how, in her exhaustion, she made watercolors in a haphazard way and felt that everything looked awful. But she let herself off the hook and allowed herself to "just play, no matter what."

This time, I've moved and rearranged my website, am involved in an exhausting effort to launch a huge endeavor, have just completed two eBooks and am temporarily working in a separate job full time. I'm very pleased that I've managed to carve out a little time to draw and paint. If nothing else, it's very good for my mental health!

I brought the Landscape into Art series to an end for several reasons, one of which is that I found the format too confining. Upon leaving that behind, I've discovered that the process of that series freed up, expanded and deepened my personal relationship with watercolor. Over the past few years I seem to have developed a basic palette and sort of stylistic language that I rather like (a good thing!) Now there are other matters to develop. Rather than delineate those publicly, in advance, I'm going to let the process lead.

All that is just to say that I'll be playing for a while and that my point of departure —apparently — continues to be landscape. What did not write along with my watercolor posts at the Landscape into Art blog (at least to my recollection) is the emotion, spirit and archetypal memory embedded in both the process of making (most of) those paintings and the paintings themselves. Like a good poem, I feel that the maker can point to certain experience but, ultimately — in the case of paintings — it is the viewer who has (or does not have) a visceral or transformative encounter. Spoon feeding extensive explanations has always felt to me like overkill and I've never been wild about over intellectualizing.

Still, as our magnificently beautiful mother earth continues to be defiled and destroyed before our very eyes, my gratitude for the conscious experience of her grace (and all of our fellow creatures), and grief of what's transpiring, is always with me when I make these landscapes.

More than any other part of Kenneth Clark's Landscape into Art lectures, the final passage in his Epilogue has stuck with me while developing my landscapes.
"I said that the best hope for a continuation of landscape painting consisted in an extension of the pathetic fallacy, and the use of landscape as a focus for our own emotions. ... Expressionism is the art of the individual and is his protest against the restraints of society: and whether such an art can exist in the future is a question for economists, sociologists, physicists and crystal-gazers. As an old-fashioned individualist I believe that all the science and bureaucracy in the world, all the atom bombs and concentration camps, will not entirely destroy the human spirit; and the spirit will always succeed in giving itself a visible shape. But what form that will take we cannot foretell."
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Anonymous said...

WOw. That's very nice. You moved~! How do you like your new home so far? (14 months after) xDD
First house ey?
Wonder when I'll get mine. :''>

Suzanne McDermott said...

Hey, Hazel. Actually I made a virtual move to a new website which is where we are now! So far, so good. I'd say you have plenty of time before you move into your own home. Plenty of other things to contend with first. Like SCHOOL!!! :-)

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

I'm still following. Nice to see your new home. Well done. Lovely painting. Definitely has the spring feel to it with the overhead clouds.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Hi Nancy! It's so nice to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Mineke Reinders said...

That cloud is magical. Also love the pink-green-yellow symphony in the foreground. Great to see this here in your new home Suzanne. It feels very welcoming.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Thanks, Mineke. It felt VERY good to lay out a palette, fill the water glasses, rinse the cat fur off the brushes and get into the flow. You can see that I took your suggestion re: posting.

caseytoussaint said...

Suzanne, I'm so happy to see your work again, in this new format. A very inspiring post - and such a lovely landscape to illustrate it!

Suzanne McDermott said...

Thanks for leaving a comment, Casey! I've been viewing your fab posts in my reader but it's about time I let you know that I'm keeping up. Your Turkish adventures were a delight. Good to hear from you!